Judge dismisses Medford man’s protest over citation for leaving bike lane

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on April 15th, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Still from police video of traffic stop.

A Medford man issued a citation last year for pedaling outside of a bike lane to avoid debris says a judge has sided with the officer who pulled him over, saying he should have steered his bike around the rocks and sticks without leaving the bike lane.

We reported on this incident in October, including a video of Dallas Smith’s encounter with Ashland police officer Steve MacLennan.

“I get flats when I ride over there,” Smith tells Ofc. MacLennan in the video, which was captured by the officer’s dashboard camera. “I got two flats riding (unclear) last week.”

[Read more…]

Video of bike lane citation in Ashland highlights controversial Oregon law

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on October 25th, 2013 at 10:12 am

Still from police video of traffic stop.

Just after 6:00 pm on August 15th, 35-year-old Medford resident Dallas Smith was riding in the bike lane on Main Street in Ashland when he was pulled over by Ashland police officer Steve MacLennan. The offense? Officer MacLennan claimed that Smith was riding his bicycle outside of the bike lane.

“Why are riding on the white line and actually going over into the traffic lane when you have a bike lane here?” the officer asked Smith as he approached him during the traffic stop. When Smith replied that he was avoiding glass and other debris near the curb, which often gives him flats, Ofc. MacLennan dismissively replied. “Nope. No, that doesn’t cut it.”

After issuing the $110 citation, Ofc. MacLennan repeated to Smith that there wasn’t a sufficient amount of debris in the lane to warrant him riding several feet to the left of the curb. As he rode away, Smith asked the officer, “What am I supposed to do up here where there is no bike lane?” “You better ride off to the right then,” Ofc. MacLennan replied.
[Read more…]

In Roseburg, popularity of bicycling thwarts punitive police power grab

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on August 22nd, 2012 at 9:56 am

Gravel, leaves in bike lane-4

“Public hearing” or not; not all
bike lanes are “safe and reasonable” to ride on.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Earlier this month, police officers in the City of Roseburg tried to strengthen their authority to ticket people who do not ride in bike lanes. They thought they could sneak an agenda item through City Council and be on their way. It turns out, they were wrong.

Officers wanted to close a loophole in ORS 814.420, the law that mandates people on bicycles must use a bike lane if/when one is available (there are myriad exceptions to the rule). Specifically, the police wanted to close the loophole that says a person is not required to follow the law, “unless the state or local authority… finds, after public hearing, that the bicycle lane or bicycle path is suitable for safe bicycle use at reasonable rates of speed.”[Read more…]

In rare move, City of Roseburg looks to strengthen Oregon’s ‘mandatory sidepath’ law

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on August 3rd, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Hottest Day of the Year Ride

Who says its “safe and reasonable” for bicycle use?
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

On August 13th, the City Council of Roseburg (about 170 miles south of Portland) will attempt to take a rare step toward strengthening the Oregon law mandating use of a bike lane (a.k.a. the mandatory sidepath law). That law, ORS 814.420, mandates that if a bike lane is present it must be used.

While the law is rarely enforced, its vague language lends itself to confusion and controversy. While it mandates use of a bike lane, it also includes many exceptions to the rule. Oregonians are allowed to leave the bike lane to pass another rider, to prepare for a left turn, to avoid debris, and so on. But, legally speaking, the most problematic language in the statute is this:

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

In a nutshell, if you got a citation for not using the bike lane, you could simply demand proof that a public hearing had been held. If such proof couldn’t be provided, it seems as though the judge have to dismiss the ticket. Police officers in Roseburg want to make sure no more people on bikes can roll through that loophole.[Read more…]

Bike Law 101: The law of the lanes

Avatar by on May 11th, 2011 at 9:42 am

Bike lane in action

If it’s there, you should be too.
(Photo © J. Maus)

If you’re concerned about your personal safety mixing it up with motorized traffic, your fears are not without merit. American roads are made for something powerful, weighty and full of horsepower. Stepping foot or pushing pedal upon them can indeed be daunting.

The tendency for the timid may be to ride on the sidewalk where things feel safer. Although permitted by law and seemingly intuitive, this is a big mistake. Because you are off-road, you are out of the line of sight for drivers and your risk of a collision goes way up (especially going in the opposition direction of adjacent traffic).

On a bicycle, you are safest when you are visible, following standard driving practices and behaving predictably as you ride. This is where bike lanes come in. Bike lanes are engineered to help facilitate predictability and act as a visual cue to separate bikes and cars. [Read more…]

From Seattle: How we’re coping with fourth place

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on September 5th, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Now that the whole country thinks Oregon isn’t in the top-three best states to bike in, you might assume the Beaver State delegation here at Pro Walk/Pro Bike would be sulking and demanding a recount.

Not exactly.

When the League of American Bicyclist’s executive director Andy Clarke announced the rankings at a party at the South Lake Union Armory last night, people almost immediately began embracing our new, out-of-medal-contention placing.

After the party, many of us from Oregon went on a spirited and star-lit ride around the city (via the Burke-Gilman Trail). I think the photo below will give you a good idea how we’re dealing with the No. 4 news:[Read more…]

Police quotes raise safety concerns

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on October 29th, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Education about bicycle laws is a major factor in keeping our roads safe for everyone. Increasing awareness and understanding of these laws is just as important as any bike safety infrastructure or policy changes.

That’s why some cyclists are concerned that a quote attributed to a Portland Police Bureau employee and published by the Oregonian on Sunday, not only makes this education effort more difficult but it contributes to a more dangerous environment on our streets.
[Read more…]

Expert witness backfires on DA in bike lane case

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on November 7th, 2006 at 1:17 pm

[City of Portland’s
Chief of Bicycles,
Roger Geller]

One of the more interesting and dramatic cases in yesterday’s “Bike Day at Court” was the case involving Jeff Smith.

Smith is a PDOT employee who, ironically, has worked in the city’s bike program for many years.

Smith was issued a citation for failure to use a bike lane while riding his bicycle westbound on SW Main Street between the Hawthorne Bridge and 1st Avenue.

Interestingly, instead of just the cop defending his ticket (which is the usual practice), according to one observer there were “four or five” District Attorneys present for this case,

“the DAs were constantly huddling together, talking amongst themselves, and advising other officers in the room.”

[Read more…]

Cops carry out enforcement mission on morning commuters

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on August 2nd, 2006 at 8:51 am

I have had several phone calls and emails about the enforcement mission being carried out by the Portland Police Bureau on the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge this morning.

I have heard reports of up four cyclists being pulled over at one time.

This was a planned enforcement mission and I remember an email about it from Evan Manvel of the BTA on the Shift list about a week ago.

I called Lieutenant Kruger this morning and he confirmed that they were, “focusing on the downtown core area and citing all modes (cars, bikes, peds, etc…).”
[Read more…]

List of common violations and fines

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) by on December 15th, 2005 at 8:58 am

The LDTMA (Lloyd District Transportation Management Association) recently held an open forum to discuss bike issues in the Lloyd District area. They invited several NE Precinct police officers and traffic division commander Bill Sinnott. During the Q&A session, someone asked to see a list of the most common bicycle infractions and the cost for each of them.

I followed up with Bill and he took the time to compile this nice list. While you read it, keep in mind that cops actually write very few tickets to cyclists each year (this will be changing in the future), but I wanted to publish this just so we’re all on the same page.
[Read more…]