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One unanswered question on Friday's bike plan 2030 program: how many tickets do Portland police write for cyclists who break traffic laws? The answer: the police don't know for sure. Right now, only tickets written by officers in the traffic division are electronic, and thus searchable for things like if the recipient was a cyclist. Other police officers also write traffic tickets, but those records won't be electronic until next year.
But according to these partial records, the traffic division issued 1001 warnings or citations to cyclists for violating traffic laws in 2008. As of November 12, 2009, the total was 721.
Check out this training video put together by police for police on how to best enforce bike traffic laws (if you're looking for flared tempers and fast action, you might have to look elsewhere, but there's an OK roll-off-the-hood stunt about a quarter of the way through):
If you don't get through the whole thing, here are a couple revealing highlights. Deputy city attorney David Woboril says officer discretion is key.
An emphasis was placed not on the strict letter of the law, but on enforcement that best uses scarce resources to promote safe sharing of our roads.
Lt. Bryan Parman stresses changing behavior:
As with almost all traffic work, whether you write a citation or not should depend on your evaluation of the need to affect the future behavior of the driver, bicyclist, and public at large.
Officer Robert Pickett considers motivation when deciding whether to cite bikers for getting in the way of a car:
Given Portland's desire to have motor vehicles become accustomed to bikes in the travel lane, we feel impeding should be a low enforcement priority. Unless a biker intends to inconvenience drivers.
And this tip about stop signs: if you approach on a bike at walking speed and look both ways, the Portland Police probably won't cite you for running the stop. But they can.