The president of the labor union that represents most of the Portland Police Bureau’s rank-and-file officers made a statement earlier this month warning people that a recent personnel shift by Police Chief Chuck Lovell would lead to dangerous conditions on our streets. I just realized today that that person – PPA President Brian Hunzeker — used an opinion piece he read on BikePortland to support his case.
Anyone who acts to protect themselves from a clause buried in the Biketown contract that prompts users to waive their jury-trial rights is protecting themselves permanently, the bike share operator says.
At issue is a “binding arbitration” clause in section 15 of the long rental agreement to which people must agree in order to use the public system. Such clauses, which are designed to prevent class actions and other customer lawsuits, are increasingly common for credit card companies and other corporations but are rare among public bike share systems.
But as we reported Thursday, the contract includes a way for Biketown users to protect themselves: you have to send an email with a particular subject line to a particular email address mentioned in the contract.
Buried in the “miscellaneous” section of the user agreement for Portland’s new bike-sharing system is a notice that Biketown users are waiving their rights to a jury trial.
Unless, that is, they sent a one-line email to the company that operates Biketown within 30 days of first using the system. If they don’t, a prominent Portland bike lawyer says, their chances of winning any future legal claim against Biketown are slim.
The requirement was spotted this week, just after the system launched, by (among other people) Mark Ginsberg, a Portland attorney who specializes in “bicycle legal needs.” He shared his discovery in a post to friends on his Facebook page:
hey Portland friends who got BikeTown memberships, you read the contract right?
In Section 15, they force you into arbitration, unless you take action within the first 30 days (clarification- within 30 days of first use) to opt out of arbitration.
As your lawyer friend, I’m here to tell you that you should opt out.
don’t say I didn’t warn you.
For many traffic crash victims the difference between getting a check from the insurance company and getting nothing comes down to one document: a police report. And for an increasing number of Portlanders the time it takes to receive a copy of that report has ballooned from two weeks to up to six months.
These victims are in limbo. Without a police report they can’t get paid what they’re owed and they can’t fully heal emotionally because they often aren’t even able to find out basic information — like the first and last name — of the person who hit them.
your rights can make them smoother.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Portland Copwatch announced a seminar event today that’s aimed at people who ride bikes. “Your Rights, Bikes and the Police” will be an informational event that will feature local attorney Mark Ginsberg and members of Portland Copwatch, a non-profit, “grassroots group promoting police accountability through citizen action.”
Here’s more about the event:
Back in February, Portlander Ken Southerland got a ticket for attempting to give a friend a ride on the back rack of his bicycle. In the summer of 2007, I saw two Portland Police officers issue a ticket to a man on Alberta Street for the same offense. In the latter case, the man was operating a tall bike with a home made wooden deck on the back (see photo below).
In Oregon, there’s a state law that prohibits “unlawful passengers on a bicycle.” With the popularity of Xtracycles and other long-tail bikes where people ride on the rear rack, and the general tendency for “doubling” (which is far from just a Portland phenomenon), I wondered whether or not the examples above expose yet another unfortunate grey-area in Oregon law that could negatively impact people who ride bicycles.
Since that case, the Portland Police have continued to scrutinize bicyclists. They’re citing not only
brakeless fixed-gear bicycle riders without handbrakes, but several other infractions that may not stand up in court including; not using hand signals (which cyclists are not required to do), not riding in the bike lane (which is not always required), and others.
Yesterday at the Multnomah County Courthouse the law came down against fixed gear bicycles.
On June 1, 2006 Portland bike messenger Ayla Holland was given a ticket for allegedly violating Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 815.280(2)(a) which states,
A bicycle must be equipped with a brake that enables the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement. strong enough to skid tire.