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.
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…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
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.
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…]