Oregon Governor signs anti-profiling bill aimed at racially motivated traffic stops

Posted on August 18th, 2017 at 1:28 pm.

Crosswalk enforcement action NE Killingsworth-6

Starting next year, the Portland Police Bureau will be required to report traffic stop data to the State.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

One of the many ways race intersects with transportation is with enforcement of traffic laws. National and local statistics show that black people are stopped and cited for road-use related violations at a higher rate than whites.

In their Unequal Justice series, Investigate West reported, “For everything from jaywalking to driving without a license, it pays to be white in Oregon if you run afoul of the law. What you really don’t want to be is black.”

Now there’s an Oregon law on the books that will give advocates and law enforcement officials new tools to analyze traffic stops and ultimately tackle racial profiling — or as Oregon law enforcement officials refer to it, “bias policing.”
[Read more…]

While Rep. Reardon defends victim-blaming PSA, police in his district focus on larger threats

Posted on August 10th, 2017 at 1:25 pm.

SE 136th Press Conference-6

Rep. Jeff Reardon.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon House Representative Jeff Reardon thinks the public service ad campaign he created is just a humorous way to deal with a serious problem.

In a statement to BikePortland that he also posted to his Facebook page, Reardon said, “I am pleased that this public service ad has captured people’s attention. It is a tongue-in-cheek approach to the tragic reality of pedestrian injuries and fatalities.”

But as victims of traffic crashes, advocates for vulnerable road users, and experts in the communications and safety fields from all over the country and the world have pointed out to him in the past two days, the much more serious problem is that our roads are dominated by people in large motor vehicles who have no regard for the safety of others.

On Tuesday, the same day Rep. Reardon launched his campaign, police officers in his district actually did something about the problem.

The Happy Valley Police Department just released a statement about a crosswalk enforcement action they completed on August 8th. The mission specifically targeted automobile users at two high-risk intersections. Police say they were spurred into action by citizen complaints that people’s high-speed driving was putting walkers at risk.[Read more…]

Portland Police won’t bust naked riders, as long they go with the flow

Posted on June 23rd, 2017 at 11:48 am.

Official graphic from Portland Police Bureau.

Our local version of the World Naked Bike Ride isn’t just an amazing cycling spectacle and one of the largest clothing-free rides on the planet, it’s also an illustration of what makes our city so great. That is, the level of coordination and respect between volunteer ride organizers and the Portland Police Bureau is something to be proud of.

For years now, ride organizers have worked very closely with Police staff on route selection and other details. Both are trying to strike a balance between free, unfettered fun and safe and civil behaviors that don’t cause too many issues for everyone involved. These negotiations and compromises are why we don’t see the route spend as much time downtown anymore and why there’s a big push to attend one of the many free after-parties instead of hanging out in a huge crowd at the finish line. Police and ride volunteers meet months in advance to trade concerns and hash out differences.

But there’s one compromise more important than any other: The fact that the police are willing to look the other way when they see fully nude adult bodies rolling gleefully down our public streets. Yes, technically it’s illegal to for adults to be naked in public if there’s someone of the opposite sex within view. Of course this law isn’t ironclad and there are court precedents around free speech and protest; but the police could make the Naked Bike Ride a lot less naked if they really wanted to (sort of like how they could have let Critical Mass continue if they would have permitted the illegal — but safe and entirely reasonable — practice of allowing large groups to roll through stop signs; but I digress).
[Read more…]

Black man who was thrown off bike and arrested without cause sues City of Portland for $475,000

Posted on May 19th, 2017 at 1:31 pm.

Screenshot of story in The Oregonian.

The Oregonian reports that a northeast Portland man who was tackled off his bike, roughed-up and arrested in 2015 has filed a $475,000 lawsuit against the City of Portland.

An attorney for 23-year-old Anthony James Allen Jr. told The Oregonian her client was arrested without cause simply because he was black. Allen was cycling home from work when the police first made contact with him and began questioning him about an unrelated incident. Here’s more from Allen’s attorney as reported in The Oregonian:

“You need reasonable suspicion,” Albies said. “It can’t just be because ‘I feel like it.’ It can’t just be because ‘You’re black and I want you to do what I want you to do.’ … If that was me on my bike … there’s no way they would have done that. I’m a white woman.”

The lawsuit filed Wednesday (PDF) says that Allen was profiled due to his race. Police were in Allen’s neighborhood because of a shooting that had occurred. Here’s what happened when Allen rolled up on his bike (from the lawsuit):[Read more…]

Police stop 66 people in two hours during inner SE Hawthorne enforcement mission

Posted on January 27th, 2017 at 9:45 am.

Of course people drive dangerously here. The road design encourages it.

How rampant is illegal and dangerous driving in Portland?

In just two hours last night the Portland Police Bureau wrote 43 citations (for 61 separate violations) and handed out 23 written warnings*. The ‘Vision Zero traffic safety mission’ was carried out between 6:00 and 8:00 pm on Southeast Hawthorne Blvd between 12th and Cesar E. Chavez Blvd.

In a press statement, the police said, “This area was selected due to numerous community complaints and it is a high traffic area for all road users.”

This section of Hawthorne area is also full of shops, eateries and popular destinations. Despite a motor-vehicle oriented road design that hasn’t changed in decades, inner Hawthorne is one of the most iconic commercial districts in Portland. Just a few blocks east of where this enforcement action took place is the location where 15-year-old Fallon Smart was hit and killed last August while trying to cross at SE 43rd. [Read more…]

In brief: Mt. Scott traffic violence fatality has neighbors concerned

Posted on December 27th, 2016 at 7:41 am.

Jonathan is on a well-earned family vacation. He may cover this in more depth later.

Photo of Samuel Chiriac from his gofundme memorial.

Photo of Samuel Chiriac from his gofundme memorial.

There was a traffic violence fatality on Mt. Scott over the holiday- Samuel Chiriac, 16, was a passenger in a car being driven by Seba Pop, 17. Seba Pop was driving in a three-car caravan, and “passed one of his friends in the oncoming lane and missed a sharp turn, driving off of the roadway and crashing. Dense fog may have played a factor in the crash.” (source: Portland Police)

This was a half mile away from where Karla DeBaillie was killed in August by Mary Dieter while DeBaillie was on a bicycle.
[Read more…]

After slapping a car, rider gets unexpected chat with Portland police officer

Posted on December 14th, 2016 at 5:29 pm.

What are the chances?!

What are the chances?!

Portlander Chris L. was just trying to get home and avoid the snowpocalypse.

Around 2:00 pm today Chris (who requested that we don’t use his last name) was biking east on East Burnside. There’s an unprotected bike lane on that street and it’s directly adjacent to three standard lanes. Between SE Grand and 9th Chris avoided two auto users who encroached into the bike lane as he came by (one turned in front of him, another waited and inched along, forcing him to swerve). So by the time he came up next to a woman driving a Toyota Prius just east of 8th Avenue, he was was already a bit frazzled. When he noticed she was on her phone, he became angry and frustrated. As he passed her, Chris slowed and slapped the side of the car.

“Put the phone fuckin’ down!” yelled Chris as he continued to pedal.

What Chris didn’t realize was that Portland Police Bureau Officer Bill Balzer was parked right next to him in an unmarked car when it happened.
[Read more…]

On night of protest, police stop 43 people for driving violations on St. Johns Bridge

Posted on November 4th, 2016 at 9:57 am.

Portland Police Sgt. Ty Engstrom on the St. Johns Bridge last night.(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland Police Sgt. Ty Engstrom on the St. Johns Bridge last night.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

On the same night hundreds of community members took over the lanes on the St. Johns Bridge for a solemn memorial and protest event, the Portland Police Bureau was doing their part to raise awareness of safety issues.

The Traffic Division is stationed right at the eastern end of the bridge and they took advantage of their presence on last night’s ride to conduct an enforcement action — a.k.a. “traffic safety mission”. The bureau also said the recent death of Mitch York was a key motivator of this action.

The result: According to a police bureau statement they made 43 stops in just two hours. 30 citations were written and they made 13 warnings. The violations were “numerous” but predominantly for speeding. One person was arrested for driving on a suspended license.

Imagine if we did more enforcement like this and Joel Schrantz — the man driving with a suspended license who lost control of his vehicle and killed Mitch York on Saturday — was arrested before he had a chance to commit that tragic act of violence?
[Read more…]

Sheriff’s office blames deceased victim in early morning collision near Stayton

Posted on October 13th, 2016 at 10:15 am.

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.(Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.
(Photo: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

A person was killed this morning while bicycling on a rural road just east of Stayton, a small town about sixty miles south of Portland.

We don’t always cover fatal bicycle collisions so far away from the Portland metro area; but the statement about this one just released by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office deserves a closer look. The language used in the statement shows how far Oregon law enforcement agencies have to go to create a culture around traffic deaths that is in line with Vision Zero principles.

According to the Marion County Sheriff’s office, the collision occurred when someone driving a motor vehicle hit a bicycle rider from behind. Read their official statement (released just two and-a-half hours after the collision) and think about how the language paints the relative culpability of each party:
[Read more…]

Police write 31 tickets, 34 warnings and make two arrests in enforcement mission

Posted on September 6th, 2016 at 2:21 pm.

Wheeler Ave traffic and meeting-4

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Our roads are so full of dangerous and irresponsible vehicle operators that finding them is usually as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

Case in point: In response to a spate of collisions caused by reckless and illegal driving, the Portland Police Bureau decided to conduct a traffic safety mission on Friday night. For two hours between 7:00 and 9:00 pm they patrolled the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Grand Avenue couplet between the Ross Island Bridge and Broadway.

In those two hours they wrote 31 traffic citations and 34 warnings. They also arrested two people — one for driving under the influence and another person for outstanding warrants.[Read more…]