Are Portland Police Ticketing Bicyclists More Often than Motorists?

Police staked out an
intersection Wednesday in southeast Portland where cars and bicycles
merge. As Ley Garnett reports, police wrote a number of citations
mostly to bike riders.

Published November 16, 2005 by Oregon Public Broadcasting

By Ley Garnett

PORTLAND, OR —  Police staked out an
intersection Wednesday in southeast Portland where cars and bicycles
merge. As Ley Garnett reports, police wrote a number of citations
mostly to bike riders.

———————-

Clinton
Street is a designated bicycle avenue. About 27% of the vehicles here
are bicycles. Police have a stakeout at 26th Avenue.

Bill Sinnott: We’re doing what we call enforcement mission.

Bill Sinnott is commander of the police traffic division.

Bill
Sinnott: We’ve teamed up to come out here and have a look at this
intersection because there’s been a lot of complaints from people who
live in the area about this intersection and people who are going
through the stop sign way too fast.

It’s not as if the traffic
has no warning that a crackdown is coming. One block ahead of the
intersection police posted orange cones around a sign that reads
traffic enforcement ahead.

Bill Sinnott: We’ve got a bunch of
motorcycle officers out here and we have an officer who stands on the
corner. He calls out the violations as he sees them. The motorcycle
police will then go pull the person over. Depending on what occurred,
they’ll either write them a warning or they’ll write them a ticket for
going through the stop sign.

Greg Raisman is a traffic safety
manager with the city of Portland. He’s interested to find out the
results of this enforcement action.

Greg Raisman: When you look
at crash information for the city of Portland, it’s really about 50-50
in terms of who’s at fault, whether it’s pedestrian and car crashes or
bicycle and car crashes.

This officer has stopped Nicholai Rangel for not slowing his bicycle at the intersection before he turned down Clinton Street.

Motorcycle
cop: And again I would ask that you follow the same rules of the road
as a motor vehiclist. We’re not out here just stopping bicyclists, but
motor vehicle as well, reminding them.

Rangel is courteous to the patrolman. But after the cop rides off he’s clearly irritated.

Nicholai
Rangel: I’m going to show up in court and I’m going to ask them you
know like, okay, so your police officers obviously don’t have anything
better to do? So I’ll pay the citation, I just want you to know how
pathetic it is.

But Hugh Doty has a different opinion.

Hugh
Doty: I’m glad they’re getting these guys on the bicycles. I live
around here. Man, these assholes are always running the stoplights,
pulling out in front of you. I’m almost hitting them every day. I go up
and down this road every day.

During the three-hour stakeout, police wrote 44 citations, 29 of them to bicyclists, and 38 warnings.

The
tickets will cost the two wheelers $94 and the motorists $274. They
also caught a drunken driver crossing the intersection at 9 am.