Police and bikes in Ashland
by admin on Jun, 29 2016
Has anyone else been warned by Ashland police about staying in bike lanes, making foot down stops, or other issues? In my case, he was not interested in why I was outside the bike lane (possible dooring and debris) nor why I did not make a foot down stop at east bound Hersey at Oak (steep uphill). I’ll own the not stopping, but I think he is mistaken about staying in the bike lane. If anyone knows anything, I’d be interested in hearing it.
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6/29/2016 at 2:51PM
I live in Ashland and ride my road and mountain bike through town en route to various rides and I have never heard of the bike lane issue. The cop should be able to quote you a statute or an ordinance.
6/29/2016 at 2:54PM
“If a bicycle lane is available the law requires riders to use it except when necessary to safely avoid a hazard or to make a turn.” “A Legal Guide for Oregon Bicyclists” by Ray Thomas.
6/29/2016 at 2:56PM
My son was issued a moving violation when he failed to stop on his bike for the red light by the fire station near downtown. It went in his driving record, the same as if he ran a red light in a car. There was no oncoming traffic.
6/29/2016 at 2:57PM
That officer probably added to your son's life expectancy with that wake-up call. I hope that you thanked him.
'Seems as if we want the protection of the law, perhaps we should obey the law???
(And perhaps inform the Ashland officer that the law that requires a "STOP" does not require a footdown stop.... witness the track cyclists with skills to stop, while clipped in.)
6/29/2016 at 4:56PM
Phil noted a good layperson's reference to Oregon bike laws. Oregon bike laws are part of the Oregon Vehicle Code. The Ray Thomas Pedal Power book can be downloaded free:
The Ray Thomas Peadle Power book has an interesting discussion about bike lines starting on page 63 "Bike Lanes Revisited". Some quotes relevant to your incident:
"Bicyclists must use a bike lane if one is available Oregon Revised Statute 814.420 (ORS) requires that a bicyclist use a bicycle lane or path if one is available. This is referred to as a “mandatory sidepath law” by bicycle law analysts....
"The 2005 Oregon legislature provided exceptions to the old mandatory usage requirement for bicycle lanes that takes actual practice and common sense into account. The law provides that a rider may move out of the bicycle lane or path to pass, turn or avoid a hazard. ORS 814.420 now reads: 814.420 Failure to use bicycle lane or path; exceptions; penalty
The exceptions are then enumerated.
"There is a real public relations problem when bicyclists fail to use designated bicycle lanes because motorists legitimately feel that considerable space and financial resources are being dedicated to bicycles on the roadway and the least that bicyclists can do is to use the available facilities. Still, some purists refuse to recognize bicycle lanes as preferred locations of bicycle travel because “separate” means “unequal” on the roadway and bicyclists should never
allow themselves to Articles About Bicycles and the Law 65 be “moved” anywhere off of the main roadway. All in all, bicycle lanes are an improvement for bicycling and we should use them if they are in safe condition when we are moving at a speed which would slow down motorized traffic.
Phil referred to the Ray Thomas book Pedal Power:
814.400 Application of vehicle laws to bicycles.
(1) Every person riding a bicycle upon a public way is subject to the provisions applicable to and has the same rights and duties as the driver of any other vehicle concerning operating on highways, vehicle equipment and abandoned vehicles, except:
(a) Those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.
(b) When otherwise specifically provided under the vehicle code.
(2) Subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section:
(a) A bicycle is a vehicle for purposes of the vehicle code; and
(b) When the term “vehicle” is used the term shall be deemed to be applicable to bicycles.
(3) The provisions of the vehicle code relating to the operation of bicycles do not relieve a bicyclist or motorist from the duty to exercise due care.
6/29/2016 at 4:58PM
The bike lane mandate is, from a practical perspective, very equivocal. It is subject to the cyclist's judgment as to what makes the bike lane impassable. Glass, gravel, a piece of tire, virtually any obstacle can disengage the bike-lane mandate. And, it only applies when it is specifically marked.
Going through a red light in front of the fire station is an entirely different and completely clear law; unequivocally not an advisable practice.
Foot-down is neither required nor advisable. Moreover, it is even questionable whether a full stop is a proper law. A bicycle is never more unstable than when it is starting up. That is the physics of the machine, and it is inescapable.
Therefore, to require a full stop is probably not conducive to the safest practice of cycling. A track stop, if controlled, is very safe; even a fully controlled, rolling stop is way safer than a full stop and a full restart. Unfortunately, the legislators have not fully recognized the physics of the stop, and many laws mandate a stop. Practically, though, most informed police departments allow some reasonable latitude.
Some police departments will have period of 'rigorous enforcement', during which they will send an oftentimes poorly informed patrol out to make some examples of cyclists not confirming to 'the law'. The result is usually a mixed bag of proper and improper arrests.
Footnote: there are a few states, most notably Idaho, which have much more progressive bicycle stopping laws.
6/29/2016 at 5:00PM
Thanks for discussion. Let's keep it going. I'm fully informed about the law. The problem is it's impossible to argue with a uniformed police officer on a motorcycle riding next to me telling me none of my excuses mean anything. My concern is that Ashland is "cracking down." However, it could just be this particular officer with a burr up his butt about it. I believe his complaint about me leaving the bike lane was related to the fact that approaching Oak from the west/south on Hersey, I always pull out of the lane and into the through travel lane to avoid a right hook. I also never stop there unless I have to for traffic. That is a very difficult little hill to start up again. If his complaint was about me wandering out of the bike lane on Hersey, I can attest that bike lane is virtually unrideable from Oak to Mountain. It's rough and the dooring and T-bone danger is significant. I'd really be interested to know if the police are engaged in some kind of special enforcement and who is behind it. There are some seriously idiot cyclists in Ashland, but I, and most of you, are not.
Yes, and we should join them. It's also worth noting that I (honest to god) spent 10 minutes one day monitoring traffic at the three-way at Hersey and Mountain. NOT A SINGLE VEHICLE came to a full stop.
6/29/2016 at 5:01PM
I will verify that the 'bike lane' section to which you are referring is not rideable. This is probably a case of an ill-informed police officer following a rigorous-enforcement command.
6/29/2016 at 5:02PM
Thanks so much everyone for this conversation. Good info and perspectives. We will be especially careful in town now.
6/29/2016 at 5:03PM
It is my understanding that the main reason that the county marks no bike lanes is that they want to avoid the potential liability. Thus, it is likely that the converse is true: if the lane is explicitly marked, the municipality has the responsibility to ' keep it safe' (and, implicitly, clean). We all know that such maintenance is, at best, haphazard.
6/29/2016 at 5:04PM
I've heard that Steve, the Ashland motorcycle cop, looks for cyclists to ticket and tickets them mercilessly. An acquaintance of mine slowly rolled thru a stop behind a car that he's come up on, that had stopped...the cyclist got 2 tickets for almost $600 total; "Following Too Closely" and "Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device" (because he didn't completely stop). Ridiculous.
I'd suggest that Steve be a Bicycle Cop for 6 months :) to understand safe self awareness, and conservation of momentum.
6/29/2016 at 5:05PM
What about inviting the Ashland Police Department to take part in the very enlightening discussions – forwarding them as they are taking place?
6/29/2016 at 5:06PM
I think the essence of Helmut's idea is good. However, I would not be inclined to share this dialog as it stands. Rather, it might be more effective if it were distilled a bit, while preserving the key viewpoints expressed. It is important that the Police Department get a flavor for the diversity of perspectives, as well as the common threads.
This is an excellent opportunity for the Club's leadership to strike while the iron is hot, and present this issue to the police in a constructive manner. There is a great deal of time spent by the Club trying to instill responsible cycling habits among the members, but very little, so far as I am aware, spent improving the understanding by the police of the differences in the interpretation of the laws and their practical applicability.
I know there have been at least three incidents in the past couple of years when overzealous policing has widened the gap between the Department and the cycling community. Perhaps, this is the time to try to close it.
6/29/2016 at 5:06PM
That's the guy.
6/29/2016 at 5:07PM
I think it is an excellent idea to involve the police...in a condensed form. This is a great opportunity to open dialogue and make things work better for everyone.
6/29/2016 at 5:08PM
Sorry, but y'all are heading in the wrong direction. If you really want the ticketing to stop, get political. Contact your Councilmembers -- go directly to them. Best yet -- show up in force at a Council meeting -- the more cyclists who show up, the better -- and share your concerns with the Council. The Council, and by extension the Police Chief, won't be able to stand the political pressure, and word will quickly get to the motorcycle cops that they need to exercise better judgment.
I worked in City government at the highest level and that's all I'm going to say.
6/29/2016 at 5:09PM
I have to agree with John. Let’s get something organized and go as a group.
— Charlie Schink
6/29/2016 at 5:10PM
Why don’t we just obey the law and let it go at that. There isn’t a single Velo member who hasn’t knowingly violated traffic law at one time or another. So let’s man and woman up, pay our fines and be thankful for the many cycling privileges we enjoy.
6/29/2016 at 5:10PM
In general, I agree with this. The problem is that the law, as it is currently written, makes it harder for both cyclists and motorists dealing with cyclists in some instances (see earlier comment about momentum vs. full stop). So, I think it would be great to talk to the police.
I'd love to do this.
6/29/2016 at 5:11PM
I don't "blow" stop signs. I don't run red lights. I am courteous and considerate of drivers. I DO obey the law unless it is clearly safer not to. THAT's what happened yesterday - not some arrogant cyclist crap. Officer Steve needed to use some discretion in an obviously dangerous situation. But HE DIDN'T CARE. He does not care about cyclist safety. He cares about being a dick and handing out tickets. I will not just man up an pay a ticket I get trying to protect my body and my life.
6/29/2016 at 5:12PM
Maybe you should move this conversation over to the club website, this site is for posting rides not a blog. Don't need it filling my email.
6/29/2016 at 5:13PM
Interesting, worthy thread going currently re cyclists and possible overzealous enforcement of questionable cycling laws in Ashland. Include me "in" to the group that goes to the city council meeting! Hope you can take a minute to give me some input on the following situation:
Recently I was riding in a marked bike lane on Phoenix Road in Medford and encountered one of those traffic counter installations in which they put 2 hoses across the road at 90 degrees to the travel directions, including across the bike lanes. Good weather, little traffic; I was going 15-20. The 2 hoses were right next to each other. First hose, no problem. The second hose, however, had come completely unfastened from whatever held it and was lying entirely in the bike lane stretched out in my direction of travel in a serpentine way that took up the whole bike lane for 30 feet or so. I was already looking well ahead and didn't see #2 and its position; the hose threw me and I went over the handlebars and landed in the gutter. Result was a fractured right hip, some lacerations and small punctures, and no bike riding for a good long time.
Several people - including at least one member of the crew of the passing fire truck that stopped to help me - have suggested that I should sue the City of Medford because of what happened to me. What's your take on what happened and the lawsuit suggestions?
6/29/2016 at 5:14PM
Sorry, Klink, that doesn’t work with an overzealous police force, that doesn’t understand practical application of the law, while at the same time granting motorists their 3, 4, 5 mph grace for speeding enforcement. Most of us in the club, being at the latter end of maturity, tend to ride safely just for self-preservation. Nonetheless, we are getting ticketed, without the same grace accorded motorists.
Certainly, there are those who habitually and with intent ignore the law. They deserve to be ticketed. And, like DUI’s, the vast majority of these violators are the real drunks. None of us would question the desirability of such enforcement. But, minor infractions, enforced with undue rigor, are nothing more than antagonisms that accomplish nothing, particularly when some of these ‘infractions’ are for laws that actually make cycling on the roads less safe: bike lanes are a good example of such laws as are full-stop laws. We need policing that exhibits such understanding, and it can only be achieved through a calm, rational dialog with those who create and enforce the laws.
6/29/2016 at 5:15PM
That's news to me. Sorry for bothering you.
6/30/2016 at 3:25PM
Hey Ed Is this the cop?
7/2/2016 at 11:21AM
Ed, I often ride up Hersey to Oak, and feel that it is practically impossible to come to a "complete stop" and be able to safely start cycling again. The hill is so steep that by continuing to pedal at a near standstill is the only safe route through besides dismounting and walking across the street. Thanks for posting this warning to those of us commuting through town.
7/6/2016 at 5:19PM
At a stop sign, I've yet to see a motorcyclist, cop or other, put a foot down or a track stand when there was no traffic. They role through it just like a bike.