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Portland Police target bicyclists disproportionately.

Portland police have lately been operating "stings" against bicyclists. They have been watching for things like not staying within bicycle lanes or not coming to complete stops at stop signs (including putting your foot down).

They have been targeting areas like SE Clinton around 26th, Ladd's Circle, the area between OMSI & the Springwater Corridor, the area on the east side of the Broadway bridge, and several others.
(Google "Portland bicycle enforcement action" to find lots of reports).

I have personally seen the ones between OMSI and the Springwater corridor, including one tonight. Often these "stings" will use massive amounts of manpower, the one at Ladd's Circle had at times six to ten officers on motorcycles and in cruisers. Tonight there were two motorcycle cops issuing citations.

According to Jeremy Van Keuren, Public Advocate for the office of the Mayor Tom Potter:
"In an average month, the Traffic Division will issue approximately 1500 to 1800 citations. About 100 to 150 of those go to bicyclists (though that number may increase during
the warm months)"

Since almost all of these stings took place during commuting hours, and commuting numbers are the easiest to find - I am going to focus on them.

Here come my "back of the napkin" calculations:

According to the US Census Bureau, 62.4% drive to work and 3.5% of Portland commuters commute by bicycle.

257,510 total commuters in Portland daily, which assuming an average month of 20 commuting days that works out to 5,150,200 commuters per month. 3,213,724 of them are by car, and 180,257 are by bicycle.

Bicycle commuter volumes are 5.6% of motor vehicle commuter volume.

According to the mayors office, 6.66% to 8.3% of citations are issued to bicyclists, and by their own admission - the percentage issued to bicyclists during the warmer months may increase.

Which means that if you only look at commuting numbers, bicyclists are receiving citations at a rate 1% to 2.7% more often than motorists.

Now lets consider the fact that my numbers are only looking at commuting. If we were able to somehow quantify the total number of bicycle miles ridden in Portland verses the number of motor vehicle miles driven in Portland, I would seriously bet that the percentage of bicycling drops way below 3.5%. Especially when you factor in all possible miles travelled within Portland.

If that is the case then the Portland Police are issuing citations to bicycles at a drastically higher rate than they are motorists. This is consistent with the anecdotal evidence that the bicycling community has been compiling.

This is disturbing to me because motor vehicles kill far far more people than bicycles do.

Which would imply that these "stings" are a massive waste of police resources.

Of course, none of this is scientific, or even guaranteed accurate. Use this info merely as a starting point for further inquiry.

This post is NOT to debate laws, or bicyclists habits. Go somewhere else to debate that. I will simply say that there is no excuse for anyone, motor vehicle or bicycle to not obey the laws and if the laws are broken citations are legitimate.

The purpose of this post is both to highlight the disparity, and to postulate that if *real* safety was the *actual* concern of Portland Police, they would work on education and warnings for bicyclists, and issue citations to the people in the 4000 pound killing machines.

I don't think this sort of selective enforcement actions against bicycles will help Portland achieve Platinum status.


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