“Our business has historically been in trying to build the best bike network possible, but our work is meaningless if public space is not safe for everyone.”
— Bike Loud PDX co-chairs
After Monday’s peaceful protest, even more people took to the streets last night to march against racism and policy brutality.
While the protest was largely peaceful for many hours, there were several instances of more aggressive actions. Reporters documented the Portland Police firing tear gas and flash-bangs into peaceful crowds indiscriminately, causing shock and horror at the conduct of officers and anger at Mayor Ted Wheeler.
One incident in particular illustrated how the tension in these protests often stems from one central question: Who controls the streets?
The message below came to us from a reader via Facebook. I’m sharing it here with permission from the victim.
Today, Feb 8, 2020, my spouse and I were returning from a ride along the esplanade. I’m a bit slow because I’m recovering from a full hysterectomy and appendectomy. My husband was waiting for me along the curb headed north on N. Williams just after Broadway.
As I was crossing N. Broadway (during green light in bike lane), a Dodge Ram 2500 began to approach me with driver revving the engine billowing black smoke and squealing the wheels. At one point his truck stopped next to me and the white male driver stepped on the gas pedal with his brakes on and started fish-tailing until the backend of his truck almost hit me. It was terrifying.
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.”
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?
PPB officers camped out on Highway 26 up near the Oregon Zoo to catch speeders. Read their press release below for how that turned out…
53 CITATIONS ISSUED DURING A #VISIONZERO TRAFFIC SAFETY MISSION
News Release from Portland Police Bureau
Posted on FlashAlert: October 12th, 2016 3:04 PM
Downloadable file: Vision_Zero.jpg
On Tuesday October 11, 2016, the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division conducted a Vision Zero traffic safety mission on the Sunset Highway at the Oregon Zoo overpass. For approximately two hours, officers conducted high-visibility enforcement and education stops.
In total, 53 traffic citations were issued along with three written warnings. The average citation speed was 70 MPH in the 50 MPH zone. This location was selected for the mission due to the number of crashes that occur on the Sunset Highway.
This mission was conducted in an effort to address the high number of traffic crashes this year resulting in serious physical injuries or death. So far this year, 32 people have died in traffic-related crashes.
The Traffic Division and Precinct operations will be conducting future enforcement missions as staffing allows.
The Portland Police Bureau is committed to working with our partners in government and the community to create safer streets and work towards reducing, and eventually eliminating, traffic fatalities as part of Vision Zero.
Last month’s inaugural U-lock? U-Rock! exchange was so popular that the Portland Police Bureau’s Bike Theft Task Force (BTTF) ran out of locks within the first hour.
“Before we even got set up, there was a line. We could not keep up with the demand,” Portland Police Bureau Officer Dave Sanders wrote in a debrief. “At one point, there was a line of cyclists a block long and so many people congregating around our tents, that it was interfering with other organizations.”
Officer Sanders and a crew of volunteers (more are needed!) and city partners will be prepared for the onslaught this Sunday when the program returns for Sunday Parkways Northeast.
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.
Two police officers and the City of Hillsboro are on course to defend themselves in a jury trial over their choice to Taser a man who they’d stopped for biking illegally beside Tualatin Valley Highway.
The man who was tackled and Tasered in the 2012 incident, Jermaine Robinson, had been riding after dark without a front light on his bike, and the officer who stopped him says Robinson had been crossing the Southeast 13th Avenue crosswalk against a “don’t walk” light.
After the officer, William Blood, pulled his car over to confront Robinson, Robinson refused to give his name and (according to Blood, but not Robinson) seemed to be preparing to pedal away. Blood’s colleague Brian Wilber then shot him with a Taser twice.
Just two days after the Chief of the Police Bureau spoke at the kickoff of Portland’s Vision Zero Task Force, we just noticed one small — yet important — change in how they operate.
Early this morning there was a fatal traffic incident in northeast Portland. Someone driving a car crashed into a garbage truck at 49th and Prescott and did not survive the collision. As they always do following one of these tragic episodes, the Police Bureau’s public information officer broadcasted a press release with the details.
I always scan these releases whether they include a bicycle operator or not. This morning as I read I noticed something new at the end of the release:
(Image: Google Street View)
The City of Hillsboro and two of its police officers may head to trial this fall over a largely unreported 2012 incident in which the officers Tasered a 39-year-old Hillsboro man and kneed him into the ground after he allegedly rolled through a “don’t walk” light on his bike and then refused to give his name.
The interaction escalated over the course of three minutes from an evening traffic stop to a Taser-assisted takedown of a man who by all accounts had never attempted to physically harm the officers, though he did pull away from them when they tried to restrain and tackle him without warning.